What if I told you that you had already made all your life’s decisions by the age of 7! As children we develop our view of the world and who we believe we are. In effect we are writing our own ‘operating manual’ and then we live by it. It makes sense that whilst some sections are going to serve us well, other parts may benefit from an update. In this post I consider how and why NLP belief change can be helpful.
Why Change Your Beliefs with NLP?
Our Childhood Framework
Our childhood, how we are parented and our experiences shape our world view. We learn what helps us to feel and receive love, what feels safe, fun, frightening and the vast array of feelings and experiences that await us. As we live we write the various sections in our very own operating manual.
Imagine a hefty folder with its various chapters: Identity & Role, Home, Family, Relationships, Love, Money, Work, Food, Alcohol, Drugs, Authority, Health, Our Sense of Community and beyond. In each chapter the rules are collated as we are told by parents, teachers, media, etc. what is “right” – who we are and what we “should” be doing.
We find ourselves building a framework of beliefs, values and judgements about what matters, how we should live our lives and who we should be. A lot of this manual will be in place by a surprisingly early age, and is then re-confirmed and lived by as we move through life.
This is a huge and fascinating area which prompts many avenues of exploration, such as the “nature-nurture debate”. We may never be able to completely understand or explain the glorious complexity and variability of what it is to be human.
The Value of a Crisis
If we have been lucky, a lot of our operating manual will have been helpful for us to live by. But being a parent is possibly the hardest job on the planet, and each generation is still learning and making adjustments to their own manuals, as they try to help their children write theirs.
We also write these operating manuals through the eyes of a child, sometimes making cause and effect connections that might not be entirely accurate. Most of us will have a few sections that would benefit from an update using NLP belief change techniques, and the value of a crisis is that it identifies which sections need revisiting.
Often our beliefs sit just below the surface, acting like a sea current along which life flows. We swim with that flow, towards certain choices about the kinds of relationships we do and do not have, work and so on. Finding ourselves in the midst of a storm can give us valuable information into which current(s) brought us into these rough seas.
A crisis is not a compulsory precursor for change but for many of us it is a way to get our attention! But if you would like to, you could take a moment to consider where you feel you might be inadvertently blocking or limiting your life’s path and happiness, and you may be able to update the operating manual as you go – a work in progress.
How Will I Know Which Beliefs to Change with NLP?
It is the frustration, challenge or crisis that will tell you which area, or even the specific beliefs to work with using NLP belief change. Sometimes you might have an idea that it is about low self-worth or confidence, for example. And that a crisis might make it quite clear that this leads us into negative relationship or work patterns. It is the job of the NLP practitioner or therapist to listen for those beliefs, and to be able to help to identify them more clearly. As we engage with that it becomes possible to see and work with the beliefs people hold that are limiting for them.
Will I Still Be Me if I Change My Beliefs?
Sometimes people we say to me: “that is just who I am”. It is as if we imagine that the operating manual has been set in stone – fixed for all time. We know that is not universally true because from time to time we can all have an experience that will encourage us to change our beliefs. Maybe we had been convinced that we couldn’t do something, whether it was getting a promotion at work, overcoming a phobia such as flying, running in an egg and spoon race or a marathon. We then achieved it and updated our operating manual. This can also happen with negative experiences and the reinforcement of negative beliefs, so working with and updating those can also be transformational.
You are still you if you update some of your beliefs. They are an important part of you and how you shape your life. When you update limiting beliefs you could say that you allow yourself to become more of who you really are.
NLP Belief Change Techniques
With NLP (neuro linguistic programming) we aim to support people in finding more positive and resourceful approaches in their lives. In my practice I tailor my approach to the individual and this issue or goal they are working with.
The first step is to recognise that you would like things to be different – even if you don’t know how you will achieve that yet. Then you can begin to identify how you would like to be and work on that so that it becomes very clear and well defined as an outcome. The ‘Make it Real’ section of my Life Coaching Checklist may be helpful in that process. You can also begin to explore what beliefs would be good to have to help you achieve your goals – to believe you are capable, good enough, loveable, etc.
One could say that almost any NLP technique could be useful because beliefs are so interwoven with everything we think, feel and do. I would be guided by where the block seemed to arise and what the person I was working with wanted to achieve.
Sometimes exploring the issue or challenge can highlight outdated and inaccurate limiting beliefs which simply fade away once the light of awareness is shone upon them. I might use Robert Dilts versatile framework of ‘Logical Levels’ as mentioned in part 2 of my Life Coaching Checklist as a way to explore this.
NLP Timelines can also be a wonderful way to bring our wider perspective and experience to update old beliefs, while using Meta-Programs can help us in our understanding and communication with others. You can read more about NLP Meta-Programs in my previous post on the Importance of Communication Skills. We may have drawn unhelpful conclusions about others because they approach life in a different way to us. Understanding their framework can help us update our beliefs about them.
One of my favourite approaches is to use a Generative Belief Change Matrix. This has its roots in Robert Dilts’ Generative NLP format. It uses elements of timeline work and aims to help us build and develop the resources we already have.
Why Use NLP Belief Change?
I love the way NLP offers us the opportunity to update and change beliefs that are limiting or self-sabotaging, working deeply yet often within a shorter time-frame than people imagine. What we believe we are capable of, deserve or can aspire to can set us free or keep us stuck. What would you like to update?
I hope you have found this post on NLP Belief Change to be helpful, and if you would like to book an initial free 15 minute phone or mini-consultation to see if my approach might suit you, please do contact me.
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